Android 6.0 review: A small but significant bump for the world's dominant OS

All the big changes happened in Lollipop. Now it's Marshmallow's turn to show the world how useful and personal Android can be.

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System UI Tuner is not a theming engine

marshmallow systemuituner

The System UI Tuner is cool in an experimental way.

I regret to report that the System UI tuner is not particularly amazing. To turn it on, you have to hold down the system Settings icon in the Quick Settings drop down and then wait for the confirmation that you’ve enabled System UI Tuner. Then you’ll find the option at the very bottom of the Settings page. From here, you can customize which tiles show up in the Notifications shade, which icons show up in the Status bar, and whether or not you want the battery percentage embedded inside the top-right battery icon. It’s nice to have these few minor customization options available, but I was hoping for something a little more granular.

Finally, a full-blown fingerprint API

Fingerprint scanners on Android devices are nothing particularly new. Samsung has them, HTC’s had them, and even Motorola’s had them in the past. But it’s high time that Android has its own native fingerprint API, because now developers can easily pop it into their apps to use for things like mobile payments. 

At present, only the Nexus 6P and 5X feature Marshmallow’s fingerprint API, so we’ll report back on how it works once we get those devices in for review. However, I’m particularly curious about whether or not Samsung, LG, HTC, and the rest of the gang will implement the new API or stick to their own. 

Marshmallow will leave you wanting s’more

marshmallow figurine Florence Ion

Marshmallow’s yet another delicious little version of Android. 

We don’t give Android OSes a star rating because they change significantly through updates, and are substantially altered by most hardware manufacturers, anyway.

Which brings me to my next point: although these new little bits and pieces of Marshmallow make Android better than it is now, I’m not particularly blown away by what’s on offer. Sure, it’s exciting to have new software features to look forward to, but Android’s story needs to change a bit before we can get back to that. Android has a problem, and that problem is third-party manufacturers. I would love nothing more than to rave about how wondrous Google Now on Tap is, or how helpful individual application permissions will prove in the long run, but I’m too distracted by the fact that I have no idea when Samsung or Verizon will seed it to my Galaxy S6 Edge. I don’t even know if Samsung will implement all the features I covered here.

Regardless, Marshmallow is a great indicator of how far Android has come as a mobile operating system. It’s the world’s dominant OS and it’s finally looking and acting like it. I’m also liking the seeds Google’s sowing with regards to how much information you can find about your device in the Settings menu. It feels like the more transparent Android becomes, the more users will feel like they really do have total control.

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At a Glance
  • Pros

    • Google Now on Tap is contextual, useful, and accurate
    • Having access to individual application permissions makes Android seem so much more transparent
    • Doze will put your phone to sleep and save your battery life

    Cons

    • Marshmallow's backup solution is still a little iffy
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